Actors: Matthew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan
Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas
Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: French, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, English, Spanish
Dubbed: Thai, Spanish
Region: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 1, 2015
Run Time: 113 minutes
Extinction is an enigma within its genre. It somehow manages to be original in its approach while simultaneously borrowing from enough horror tropes to feel derivative. Even if the overall film often feels original, it is made up of elements which can be traced back to far more successful films and television shows. This makes Extinction something of a Frankenstein film, containing several working parts to construct this cumbersome and uneven experience. Though it can often feel like a different film from one moment to the next, each of these tends to be more effective than the hoard of unimaginative trope that typically fills the genre.
What begins as a typical zombie apocalypse horror film soon turns into a film far more concerned with character development and how the monsters have changed human interaction, not unlike the themes that dominate the popular series, “The Walking Dead.” In the opening sequence we are introduced to Patrick (Matthew Fox) and Jack (Jeffrey Donovan), two men whose connection is unclear beyond their mutual concern for a woman named Emma (ValeriaVereau) and her newborn child. After this short introduction to a typical zombie outbreak, the film jumps forward in time 9 years, with the baby grown to a curious young girl named Lu, being raised in isolation by Jack.
They live next door to Patrick, but never speak to him despite there being no other sign of life in the area. All of the zombies have died out in the extreme cold of their post-apocalyptic world, but Jack still takes every precaution to remain safe through isolation in their house. It isn’t until Patrick discovers that the zombies have mutated into something even deadlier that the neighbors are forced to face their past and work together for survival. The final act slips easily into a creature feature, though it resembles the attack on the farmhouse at the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs more than any zombie narrative, primarily because the zombies no longer have the distinguishing characteristics of the classic monsters; they are more alien than anything else.
Filmmaker Miguel Ángel Vivas (Kidnapped) has the ability to make each of the film’s separate elements work cinematically, though they don’t always blend well with each other. After an exciting opening sequence, the narrative retreats from most horror elements for a large chunk of melodrama in the middle. Although the excitement returns for a climactic showdown between the humans and the monsters, much of the character development in the middle section weighs down the pacing. Personally, I respect the choice to make the movie about more than just the carnage, but there is not enough depth or originality in the characters for it to survive the slump. More than anything, the film feels uneven in its editing, and this is not helped much by a senseless reliance on manipulative flashbacks sequences. As much as I like the individual elements, from the acting to creature design to the emotional score, none of them seem to mesh well together in the final product.
The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette. This is far from a masterpiece, but Extinction shows that themes and characters can successfully take the focus in a horror film over the creatures and carnage. This is a step in the right direction, even if it is a misstep.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 5/10